The first turkey of the festive season: Don’t wake up to go-go and see it… Wham! inspired romcom Last Christmas is risible, writes BRIAN VINER

The cinema’s first turkey of the season has arrived, a London-set romantic comedy plump with bad acting, risible dialogue, daft plotting, lazy slapstick, icky sentimentality and a mawkish final-act twist that, if nothing else, makes some sense of all the nonsense that has gone before. 

Unhelpfully, the audience might well have scarpered by then.

Last Christmas also features the music of George Michael, from which, indeed, it derives its title.

The film stars Emilia Clarke, whose over-the-top style of acting might fit nicely into TV’s Game Of Thrones, but on the big screen, those irrepressibly over-active eyebrows can’t disguise the fact that she’s simply not very good

The singer’s death on Christmas Day three years ago was nothing other than terribly sad, but if there is any kind of upside, it’s that he isn’t around to sit through one of the worst films of 2019, even if it is inspired by his songs.

She’s also a huge George Michael fan, who eventually falls – wham! – for a handsome stranger called Tom (Henry Golding, more or less reprising his role in last year’s wildly overrated Crazy Rich Asians, as the wholesome, rather wooden love interest)

The makers of the likeable Blinded By The Light did a similar job on Bruce Springsteen a few months ago, and while that wasn’t a classic, by comparison with this it deserved a whole shelf-full of Academy Awards.

On which subject, Last Christmas, almost unbelievably, springs from an idea by an Oscar-winning screenwriter, Emma Thompson. Can she possibly be proud of it? 

Maybe she (and her husband Greg Wise, who is also complicit) thought she could crank out something along the lines of 2003’s Love Actually, in which Thompson graced as an actress and which is destined to haunt the festive TV schedules for ever more.

Unfortunately, this won’t haunt anything, except the memories of those unlucky enough to endure it.

The film stars Emilia Clarke, whose over-the-top style of acting might fit nicely into TV’s Game Of Thrones, but on the big screen, those irrepressibly over-active eyebrows can’t disguise the fact that she’s simply not very good.

She plays Kate, who spends the first half-hour ignoring phone calls from her fussy Croatian mother (a dowdy-looking Thompson, working strenuously on her Balkan gutturals), while attempting to bed every fanciable man she meets.

This, you see, is because she’s trying to grab life with both hands, having had a heart transplant a year earlier. 

Last Christmas also features the music of George Michael, from which, indeed, it derives its title. He is pictured above with Andrew Ridgeley. The singer’s death on Christmas Day three years ago was nothing other than terribly sad, but if there is any kind of upside, it’s that he isn’t around to sit through one of the worst films of 2019

She’s also a huge George Michael fan, who eventually falls – wham! – for a handsome stranger called Tom (Henry Golding, more or less reprising his role in last year’s wildly overrated Crazy Rich Asians, as the wholesome, rather wooden love interest).

At least Emma’s hairdo sparkled

Dame Emma Thompson opted for a bizarre hairstyle, with purple sparkly stars stencilled onto her slicked back blonde hair.

Dame Emma Thompson opted for this bizarre hairstyle

So that’s the ‘romantic’ part. The ‘comedy’, meanwhile, is supplied by Kate failing to find the professional singing jobs she craves, and instead working in a shop in Covent Garden selling ghastly Christmas kitsch. 

She does so ‘hilariously’ dressed as an elf, and while you might think that an ‘elf-and-safety’ gag would be beneath Thompson, you’d be dead wrong.

Kate’s boss is played by Golding’s Crazy Rich Asians co-star Michelle Yeoh, who, in an entirely superfluous, very silly sub-plot, falls head over heels herself with a sauerkraut salesman.

Kate, incidentally, calls her boss Santa, assuming that to be her real name until Santa reveals that she’s merely adopted it because she owns a Christmas shop, and that when she worked in a pet shop she called herself Kitty, and in a bakery, Muffin.

Yes, that’s the level of humour this woeful film operates at, while also trying desperately to wring some wry metaphorical poignancy from Kate’s transplant, at first making her decidedly heartless, before she loses her heart to a man, then has her heart broken, until finally she becomes … big-hearted. You couldn’t make it up, except, alas, that Thompson did.

Maybe she (and her husband Greg Wise, who is also complicit) thought she could crank out something along the lines of 2003’s Love Actually, in which Thompson graced as an actress and which is destined to haunt the festive TV schedules for ever more. The pair are seen above

It’s no great surprise throughout all this to find Clarke overdoing the kookiness by roughly 150 per cent – she gave a similarly tiresome performance in 2016’s painful Me Before You – but astoundingly the director is Paul Feig, the accomplished American filmmaker whose credits include Bridesmaids (2011) and Spy (2015). 

He ought to know a decent comedy when he sees one, if, evidently, not always when he directs one.

Maybe he was tempted by the prospect of working with Dame Emma. I can understand why; she’s usually a class act. But this is an ugly blot on her illustrious CV. 

Believe me, you won’t thank someone for waking you up before you go-go. You’ll wish you’d stayed in bed.

Last Christmas opens across the UK on Friday

 

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